Saturday, September 26, 2020

BIHL leverages on property track record into regional markets

April 4 2010: At his farewell party, former Managing Director of BDC, Kenneth Matambo, humbled his former top employee, Victor Senye, with praises for being instrumental in the development of the GICC, which has become a popular conference arena in Botswana.

Senye had to convince his boss that the project will work. Several years later and now a respected fund manager, he has been given the responsibility of spearheading the newly set up Property Fund by Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL).

“We have to increase shareholder value and property is one area to look at,” Senye, former Bifm Chief Executive Officer told Sunday Standard this week.

BIHL, which operates on an insurance license that stipulates that 25 percent of profits be set aside into reserves, over the years accumulated capital resource, which is one the ingredients of property development.

The details of the fund are not clear, but it will be known before the end of the year.

The group has engaged the services of local law firm Collins & Newman in the restructuring of the regional fund. The proposals are expected to be presented to board in May.

“We are waiting for advice and how to structure the fund and that is when we will go into the modalities of the fund”. After that it is then when they approach investors like Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF).

Already, Bifm gas exported its property knowledge to other markets like Zambia. It has delivered the MTN Zambia head office, office buildings, shopping mall investing over P200 million.

A lot of players in Africa are able to put together funds, but have no capabilities to generate funds, but end up looking for funds. “What we are bringing which is value add is to originate assets; not all the players are able to do that”.

As the group takes the fund into the region, it will use its track record of the property development it has accumulated in the country and other markets especially that Bifm is the first asset manager to go for Public, Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Botswana.

“This track record will allow us to go into regional property”, he said. “Otherwise it will be difficult to convince people.”

Over the years, the group has acquired land around the country and went into consortium with other institutions to develop land including SADC headquarters at the CBD, Fairgrounds office park.

The Fairgrounds Office Park is now moving into Phase 2, which is now complete and tenanted boasting of high caliber of tenants including the Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources, Cresta, Hollard, Botswana Tourism Organisation.

It is also working on joint venture property developer Stocker Fleetwood-Bird Botswana for the development of five units at the Fairgrounds Financial Centre.

Already, three units have been sold to BOPEU, Botswana Institute of Accountants and the other one to a consortium of local investors.

Senye revealed they are finalising plans to develop a 15 hactas land around the Sir Seretse Khama Airport robots for a retail development.

At the moment, there is no shopping area in that neighborhood although it is highly populated.

Senye said the retail area will give them the opportunity to capture the market to goes to Phakalane and Oodi. Other suburbs that can benefit from the project include Taung, Block 8 and Block 10.

“The market is there if you do it right; we will be able to succeed. We are not trying to force a product into the market; we are guided by tenants,” he said.

“If we get tenancy that supports that, we will look into it.” He said if they do not get the numbers, they might go for Plan B, which is to put up a hotel that has no presence in the country at the moment.

Senye said the group has land and capital, but the idea is to create market adding that they should able to generate assets from raw land and involves origination of assets.

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